Sunday, March 28, 2010

Welcome home burt and lola. You've been missed.

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

My dad would be so proud! I remember how he taught me to store extension cords!

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

pastor John Piper...

i've served in full-time ministry since i was 23 years old. now, as a ripe old 29 yr. old... i continue to recognize how little i know and how green i am when it comes to serving/loving/teaching people well.

i am not a person who likes to learn a lesson the hard way. i constantly watch and observe those around me and the leaders i admire to see how they lead and what i can learn from them. i read blogs and follow pastors/ministers on twitter in hopes that some of their wisdom will somehow rub off on me.

one of those pastors is john piper. here's a letter that he sent out to his congregation. i am thankful for John's honesty and pursuit of the Holy Spirit. this letter is an example to me of humility and the pursuit of that to which God has called us (ministers and his followers) to.

to see a man recognize the importance of his marriage, family and relationship with the Lord... and acknowledge how his job (ministry) has hindered all of the above... take the bold step to step back and focus on the things that God first trusted him with, is truly a humbling reminder of God's grace in my life.

shouldn't i always reevaluate and re-check how i'm loving God and my family/friends every day? i'm so good at taking advantage of them, knowing that they are always there, willing to love the flaws in me...

i thank God for using other people's growth in my own pursuit of Him.

here's John's letter to his congregation. would you be able to be this open and honest with the people in your life and those that God has entrusted you with?

John Piper's Upcoming Leave

By John PiperMarch 28, 2010

As you may have already heard in the sermon from March 27-28, the elders graciously approved on March 22 a leave of absence that will take me away from Bethlehem from May 1 through December 31, 2010. We thought it might be helpful to put an explanation in a letter to go along with the sermon.

I asked the elders to consider this leave because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, I love my Lord, my wife, my five children and their families first and foremost; and I love my work of preaching and writing and leading Bethlehem. I hope the Lord gives me at least five more years as the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem.

But on the other hand, I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.

Noël and I are rock solid in our commitment to each other, and there is no whiff of unfaithfulness on either side. But, as I told the elders, “rock solid” is not always an emotionally satisfying metaphor, especially to a woman. A rock is not the best image of a woman’s tender companion. In other words, the precious garden of my home needs tending. I want to say to Noël that she is precious to me in a way that, at this point in our 41-year pilgrimage, can be said best by stepping back for a season from virtually all public commitments.

No marriage is an island. For us this is true in two senses. One is that Noël and I are known inside-out by a few friends at Bethlehem—most closely by our long-time colleagues and friends David and Karin Livingston, and then by a cluster of trusted women with Noël and men with me. We are accountable, known, counseled, and prayed for. I am deeply thankful for a gracious culture of transparency and trust among the leadership at Bethlehem.

The other way that our marriage is not an island is that its strengths and defects have consequences for others. No one in the orbit of our family and friends remains unaffected by our flaws. My prayer is that this leave will prove to be healing from the inside of my soul, through Noël’s heart, and out to our children and their families, and beyond to anyone who may have been hurt by my failures.

The difference between this leave and the sabbatical I took four years ago is that I wrote a book on that sabbatical (What Jesus Demands from the World). In 30 years, I have never let go of the passion for public productivity. In this leave, I intend to let go of all of it. No book-writing. No sermon preparation or preaching. No blogging. No Twitter. No articles. No reports. No papers. And no speaking engagements. There is one stateside exception—the weekend devoted to the Desiring God National Conferencecombined with the inaugural convocation of Bethlehem College and Seminary in October. Noël thought I should keep three international commitments. Our reasoning is that if she could go along, and if we plan it right, these could be very special times of refreshment together.

The elders have appointed a group to stay in touch and keep me accountable for this leave. They are David Mathis, Jon Bloom, Tom Steller, Sam Crabtree, Jon Grano, Tim Held, Tony Campagna, and Kurt Elting-Ballard. Five of these have walked with Noël and me over the last two months, helping us discern the wisdom, scope, and nature of this leave. They brought the final recommendation to the elders on March 22.

I asked the elders not to pay me for this leave. I don’t feel it is owed to me. I know I am causing more work for others, and I apologize to the staff for that. Not only that, others could use similar time away. Most working men and women do not have the freedom to step back like this. The elders did not agree with my request. Noël and I are profoundly grateful for this kind of affection. We will seek the Lord for how much of your financial support to give back to the church, to perhaps bear some of the load.

Personally, I view these months as a kind of relaunch of what I hope will be the most humble, happy, fruitful five years of our 35 years at Bethlehem and 46 years of marriage. Would you pray with me to that end? And would you stand by your church with all your might? May God make these eight months the best Bethlehem has ever known. It would be just like God to do the greatest things when I am not there. “Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7).

I love you and promise to pray for you every day.

Pastor John

Sunday, March 21, 2010

breckenridge mission trip team

here's a picture of our breckenridge mission trip team.

from left to right: hollye, brad, me, lindsay and lance.

sledding... it's a dangerous sport

here's a video of some of our UNTBSM students sledding while on our Spring Break mission trip to Breckenridge. one of my students, lindsay, decided that sledding wasn't exciting enough... so she added some excitement.

We've already got a couple of inches...

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

Saturday, March 20, 2010

vicky beeching's new EPK.

scary drive

yesterday, our UNTBSM mission team drove from Breckenridge to Denver so that we could catch a 7 am flight home today. here's what i drove a 15 passenger van through.

praise God for his protection.

Here's a better picture of the snow.

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

Left CO today and came home to this. This was not expected.

-- Sent from my Palm Pre

Dodgeball video for the BSM

here's a video that some students of mine made for a dodgeball event we're having on Monday.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

a repost: you are their covering...

here is a repost of a blog i read this morning for leaders. how are your covering skills?

You are a covering

This post is specifically for leaders. Not just pastors- moms, dads, coaches, teachers, big brothers…if you lead anyone or anything, I’m talking to you.

My 4-year-old Elijah has had a little cough for the last week. Nothing serious at all. But of course, it’s waking him up a lot at night, his throat is starting to hurt, and now he’s not talking as much because his voice is so scratchy.

No parent likes to see their kids in pain- even when it’s a minor thing. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to watch your child suffer through a major illness. If you’ve experienced that, I’m very sorry. I would never want to come across like I’m comparing my son’s cold to a serious health issue. But I want to share something simple God showed me through something as ordinary as a run of the mill, spring cold.

Elijah came up to me on about day 4 of the cold, hugged my leg, and said (in a pretty pitiful tone of voice, incidentally): “Daddy, my throat just keeps hurting and hurting…did you go to throat school?”

(This is a Furtick family inside joke. When my kids complain about being hurt, I ask them where they hurt. If they say it’s their nose, I tell them not to worry, because Daddy went to nose school. Then I might wiggle their nose, maybe rub some lotion on it, blow on it, and otherwise treat the condition until they’re satisfied that it’s better. I also went to ear school, knee school, tummy school…you’d be surprised how thoroughly educated I am.)

So I performed some standard throat school techniques on Elijah, but then decided we should pray together. I mean, not that my throat school skills aren’t effective. It’s just that, I was kind of getting sick of seeing my son being sick. And something about how pitiful his eyes looked pushed me over the edge. So I told him we were going to pray about it. And we didn’t pray one of our typical: “Jesus, help me feel better” prayers. We got downright Pentecostal. I even got out my olive oil and commanded the sickness to leave my son’s body in Jesus’ name. I told Elijah to thank God for his healing, and taught him a scripture to recite when he feels really bad. I’m not sure how much he understood. And I’m not even sure where you line up on how to pray for the sick theologically.

But I know this: while I was praying the most forceful prayer I knew how to pray for my child to feel better, I realized how important it is that I take my position as the covering of my household seriously. The concept of a spiritual covering is a complicated, oft-abused, and somewhat obscure one for a lot of theological traditions, mine included. I’m not even sure I understand all of the implications. I do know this:

If God has made you a leader, He has empowered you to be a sort of spiritual covering for those you lead. Are you covering them with integrity? Prayer? A good example? Words of blessing?

Not just when they’re sick or in trouble…but are you covering their daily decisions? Are you covering them with affirmation? Wisdom?

It’s a humbling thing to realize God has placed you as a protective parameter over someone else. And you have to keep this concept in context, because obviously, each of us has an individual accountability before God, so we can’t internalize the failures of others as our own. And above all, we should never pervert this idea to serve our own purposes or manipulate others.

But you can’t get away from it- God calls those of us who are strong to defend the weak. Those of us in positions of authority are commanded to diligently watch over those who look to us for insight and help.

You are someone’s covering.

Make sure you’ve got them covered well.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

an interesting encounter tonight...

i spent some time at a starbucks in ft. worth tonight... so did santa.

video update on Matt Chandler

Thursday, March 4, 2010

if you're in a spiritual funk... a repost

here's a blog that steven furtick of elevation church posted today called, "if you're in a spiritual funk today, you might want to..."

-Pray out loud.
-Write your prayer out.
-Read your Bible out loud. Start here.
-Apologize to someone. Even if it’s not primarily your fault.
-Talk to someone you trust. If you don’t have someone, hire a professional.
-Start eating better.
-Drive around listening to a sermon.
-Turn up some worship music really loud. Shut the door. Sing along.
-Go back and do the thing you know you were supposed to do.
-Get organized.
-Encourage somebody who would never expect it.
-Get back in church. Serve somewhere.
-Quit complaining.
-Go on a date with your wife.
-Tell somebody thank you.
-Give some money away.
-Call on the name of Jesus.
-Remember how far He’s brought you.
-Realize that He’ll never ever leave you.

Just a few ideas to get you started.

You can take it from here…